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The False Promise of Green Technology


Guess what shopping at Wholefoods won’t save the planet!

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At this time, many people are at least generally aware that environmentally harmful human activities have caused a number of serious ecological problems, amounting to a kind of crisis. The phenomenon of global warming is probably the best known example, although there is also some awareness around issues like deforestation and the dangers of nuclear energy.

Several decades ago environmental groups were able to push the motto “reduce, reuse, recycle” into the public consciousness, although in actual practice the concepts “reducing” and also to some extent “reusing” were largely ignored. Today a new answer to environmental problems has been offered, one that doesn’t just tolerate forgetting to reduce and reuse, but actually suggests that consumption itself is the solution. “Green” consumption has taken the day. Whereas in 1985 the “environmentally conscious” thing to do might have been to turn off the lights in your house for more of the day, now consumers are led to believe that simply buying energy-efficient light bulbs will instead do the trick. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing that mainstream environmental movements were actually better informed in the 1980s, or that the solutions offered in that day would have actually been sustainable. Nevertheless, the current obsession with “buying green” is uniquely absurd.

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